Tuesday 16 June 2015

OXEN - The Vanishing (Album Review)

Album Type: Full-length
Date Released: 2015
Label: Self Released

The Vanishing - Track Listing:

2.The Vanishing
3.This Cursed Sand
4.Colour Out Of Space
5.Permanent Residence
6.Blood Eagle
7.City In The Sea
8.Tomb Of The Ocean
9.See Me Scream
10.The Matchstick


Chris Daniele-guitar, vocals
Hans Dalhaus-drums, vocals
Ben Reigle-guitar, vocals
Eric Racicot - bass, vocals


Based out of Western Massachusetts, Oxen is a 4 piece rock band that uses heavy riffs and pummeling rhythm to create a foundation for vocals that range from soaring melodies to gruff intensity.

This summer marks the release of Oxen's debut Lp "The Vanishing", an 11 song record that showcases the band's strong points of a wide dynamic approach and varied influences.


OXEN are a band that I've been keeping an eye on over the last few months or so. So when the band released a stunning video for their new single - Transmission - from their forthcoming debut album - The Vanishing - I knew I had to ask for a copy to review. OXEN duly provided me a copy to review which I'm extremely grateful for the band. So let’s get down to business. What can you expect with - The Vanishing. You get 46 minutes of fast-paced Sludge/Stoner Metal that will appeal to fans of Mastodon and Baroness.

Opening track - Transmission - is a trippy psychedelic slab of Sludge/Stoner Rock vibes that packs a mean punch. Starting with heavy guitars and intense drumming before the fantastic vocals arrive and then everything explodes into a colossal wall of sound. OXEN create riffs that bring back joyful head-banging memories of Mastodon/Baroness in their prime. OXEN create a stunning progressive rock backdrop to build their sound upon.

Second track - The Vanishing - starts with fuzz laiden Sludge/Stoner Rock riffs with the vocals venturing from 70s Classic Hard Rock to more modern times with OXEN flexing their musical muscles for some stunning dual guitar worship towards the end of the song. Third track - This Cursed Sand - sees OXEN in a more progressive mood with the tone turning slightly darker and more primal. The riffs may sound familiar but OXEN create an atmosphere where you feel you're discovering your fave band for the very first time.

OXEN pack a lot of emotion and intelligent ideas within their music. Most of the songs last for around 3 to 4 mins or so apart from the last 3 songs which run for about 5 to 6 mins in length, though more about the last 3 songs later. Fourth track - Colour Out Of Space - is more of a psychedelic space rock number with the sludge/stoner rock vibe adding a more experimental feel. It's one of the albums standout tracks.

The album has the perfect balance of clean vocals against the harsher grizzled growls which makes for some exciting moments in the vocals department. When you have all 4 members providing lead vocals it can be very confusing on who does which song. You will have no trouble here as all the vocals all have a natural fit. OXEN have even managed to convince a couple of their famous friends to provide vocal duties - Jeanne Sagan from All That Remains provides vocals to another great track - Permanent Residence. A gloomy spacy stoner offering where haunting vocals combine with the fast paced Stoner/Sludge riffs that will leave you in a trance.

When tracks such as Blood Eable, City In The Sea and Tomb Of The Ocean have finished impressing the heck out of you, OXEN venture into more epic progressive territory as the final 3 songs - See Me Scream, The Matchstick and Waxwing last for 19 mins or so. This part of the album is perhaps the most exciting part of the album as OXEN throw caution to the wind and unleash a barrage of unstoppable Sludge/Stoner Metal riffs where the guitars and vocals combine as a powerful whirlwind where nothing can stop them.

Killswitch Engage guitarist - Joel Stroezel - makes an appearance on The Matchstick. It's an exciting and almost violent offering that shows another side to OXEN's music that will leave you wondering what's going to come next. The album sounds incredible from start to finish which isn't surprising until you see the talent behind the album. The Vanishing was mastered by Chris Common who played drums for These Arms Are Snakes and who has mixed/mastered albums for Helms Alee, Minus The Bear, Pelican and Chelsea Wolfe. The album was mixed by Aaron Harris. Yeah, Aaron Harris of ISIS and Palms fame.

So kudos to OXEN for getting top-notch talent involved with the production of the album for their debut release. The Vanishing demands your full attention as it's one of the years most exciting and thrilling debut albums you're likely to come across. OXEN are looking for labels to release this album. Hopefully someone will release this album as this album needs to be heard by as many people as possible. OXEN have the talent, drive and vision to go a very long way indeed.

Words by Steve Howe

Thanks to OXEN for the promo. The Vanishing will be released within the next few months. Though the band are looking for label representation if any labels are interested.

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